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Research at Cannon Cliff, NH

Original Post
Matthew Maclay · · New Hampshire · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 0

Hello Northeast Climbers! I’m Matt, a grad student at Dartmouth and a fellow lover of the outdoors. I want to tell you about some exciting research at Cannon Cliff.

The project is a close collaboration between Dartmouth College, Franconia Notch State Park, and The Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, aiming to improve our understanding of bedrock weathering processes, factors leading to rockfall, and the history and evolution of Cannon Cliff. To do this, we are creating high-resolution maps of the Cliff in 3D (low res model viewable here: skfb.ly/oyAL8), measuring bedrock temperature and composition, and monitoring changes.

This research won’t interfere with your climbing at all, but you may come across sensors attached to the bedrock in certain places (~1 ½ inches across, pictured below). These sensors record bedrock temperature to help us build a timeline of freezing and thawing events. If you see these sensors next time you’re doing laps, please don’t disturb them (the environment up there is harsh enough on these little guys), and know that they are contributing to sanctioned research efforts to better understand Cannon Cliff :)

We want to learn from you!

Another significant component of this project is piecing together a comprehensive history of rockfall and changes on the Cliff. As climbers, many of you know the Cliff better than anyone! If you are interested in this research, we would greatly appreciate any contributions, such as: 

  • Your stories of rockfall (including your best guess of the date, location on the cliff, and description),

  • Your understanding of when and where rockfall is more likely to happen or how conditions generally vary at Cannon (e.g., post-freeze, upper pitches),

  • Any historical pictures you have of the cliff, including features that no longer exist (e.g., Whaleback, the Old Man)

  • Anything else you’d like to share!

With sufficient archival photos, we hope to create a 3D model of the cliff as it was in the past (i.e., including features like the Old Man, Whaleback, etc.). If you would like to contribute photos or stories, or just have questions or comments - please get in touch at CannonCliff3D@gmail.com or you can submit photos here: forms.gle/YeQujXkGhiQrfs4L7

I hope to bump into some of you up there! Thanks for your time, and Happy Climbing!

Josie Benson · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

That 3D model is amazing! Thanks for the heads up. Hope you get some good data!

Ron Birk · · Boston, MA · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 4,263

Any chance we may get access to the high resolution model at some point? You got me too excited with the lo res one   

Matthew Maclay · · New Hampshire · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 0
Ron Birk wrote:

Any chance we may get access to the high resolution model at some point? You got me too excited with the lo res one   

Thanks so much for your interest and excitement about the model! What you are suggesting is absolutely one of our intended outcomes: to have a publicly available, easily accessible, and fully interactive model of the cliff. One hurdle is finding a cloud-based platform to support such a large model. I will keep you all posted on this as the project continues!

Ry C · · Pacific Northwest · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

This is one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen. Best of luck with your research, can’t wait to hear more about it. 

David Maver · · Philadelphia PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 0

Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

Emory Clark · · Barnstead, NH · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 30

Those are some spaceship looking rivets.  Would whip.

More seriously, this is a very cool project, I'll reach out and help however I can.  I have grown quite fond of the place.

Nick Goldsmith · · Pomfret VT · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 440

are they strong enough to lasso with a wired stopper?   ;) 

Amy Colburn · · Boston, MA · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 361

Interesting project, very cool model. I'm curious how deep the sensors go and what the coefficient of expansion is for the type of granite found on Cannon.. 

Matthew Maclay · · New Hampshire · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 0
Nick Goldsmith wrote:

are they strong enough to lasso with a wired stopper?   ;) 

I know you're joking, but to all readers: THESE DO NOT SUPPORT ANY WEIGHT AT ALL. DO NOT TOUCH OR ATTEMPT TO USE THESE FOR ANY CLIMBING ACTIVITY. There is a simple silicone epoxy securing them to the surface.

Matthew Maclay · · New Hampshire · Joined Oct 2022 · Points: 0
Amy Colburn wrote:

Interesting project, very cool model. I'm curious how deep the sensors go and what the coefficient of expansion is for the type of granite found on Cannon.. 

Hi Amy! Thanks for your interest. The sensors are simply at the surface level, secured with adhesive. We experimented with drilling (and went through a lot of carbide bits), but we want to measure the surface bedrock temperature to compare with remote infrared observations. I don't know a specific coefficient of thermal expansion for the Conway Granite, but we use a flexible silicon adhesive that we hope will be resilient to the intense thermal variations on the cliff.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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